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Advocates rally outside of All-Star Game to shed light on Denver's homeless problem

Calls for sweeps to come to an end
Denver homeless rally
Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 13, 2021

DENVER — As All-Star Week comes to a close, questions regarding how to handle Denver’s homeless population continue.

"The city has to recognize that it has a problem," said John Staughton, one of dozens of people who gathered in protest.

Advocates gathered at Mestizo-Curtis Park to share stories of people experiencing homelessness, many that often go untold.

"We’re seeing more and more people coming out in the streets and joining these camps, and the population in Denver is growing in terms of its unhoused," Staughton said.

They then lined up tents as part of their demonstration with messages written all across.

"We feel like if you’re going to hide this problem without actually solving it, then we’re going to bring attention to that," Staughton said.

One person at the forefront of the issue nationally is HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge.

"We live in the richest nation in the world and nobody should sleep in the street, in a tent, under a bridge, on a bench — no one," Fudge said.

During her visit to Denver, she advocated for President Joe Biden’s $300 billion infrastructure plan, which she says will address the country's 11 million housing shortfall.

"The president is asking for those $300 billion to build at least two million new units, a new tax credit that would allow us to either build or rehabilitate another 500,000, and then low income housing credits will probably give us another 2 or 3,000," Fudge said.

But for people attending the Stop the Sweeps rally, new buildings isn’t the solution.

"Use the housing we have, reconstitute it, like purchasing motels and knocking out some of the walls and making those have increased capacity," Staughton said.

In a statement, the city says it is doing more than ever to help Denver’s unhoused population.

They say, in part, “Our innovations include new temporary managed campsites, tiny homes, 24/7 residential sheltering and same-day city jobs.”

The city says it also opened a new 24/7 shelter for 450 men and a women’s shelter for up to 500 women.

The mayor's office insists there’s no correlation between sweeping homeless encampments and the All-Star Game, and sweeps are only ramping up as the city is now coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homeless advocates told Denver7 they find it to be more than just coincidence.